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Integrity bypass? Saudis attempt to buy their way to respectability with Italian Super Cup

December 6 – The global condemnation of Saudi Arabia for its role in the brutal murder of dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi appears to have had little effect on top-flight Italian football administrators.

Serie A has announced that the King Abdullah Sports City Stadium in Jeddah will be the venue next month for the Italian Super Cup between Juventus and AC Milan despite a campaign for the game to be moved.

While the January 16 fixture is due to be broadcast domestically by RAI, the Italian state TV’s journalists’ union said last month that it was “absurd” and “inacceptable” for the game to be played in Saudi Arabia less than three months after the killing of the Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi

The Italian Super cup has been contested 11 times abroad before, most recently in Qatar in 2016, but Amnesty International has also voiced opposition to the latest edition being played in Saudi Arabia.

TV rights – Serie A condoning beoutQ piracy?

The decision by the Italians to take the Super Cup to Saudi is stunning in that the state is tacitly supporting the piracy of rogue TV channel beoutQ which has pirated pretty much every game of the Serie A season to date.

beoutQ, which has been stealing the rights to beIN Sport broadcast content, has continued where it left at the World Cup, with every the piracy of all of Europe’s big leagues as well as the Champions League and Europa League.

International broadcast rights condemnation of the Saudi position has seen law suits issued against the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia as well as EU support of the rights holders intellectual property. The Saudis and beoutQ have just continued to ignore the condemnation and continue to follow their own objectives.

And part of that strategy appears to be the buying off the Italians who are clearly breaking ranks with their counterparts in Europe. It raises serious questions about the international rights value of Serie A which is desperately trying to reposition itself as a credible broadcast buy to international TV stations. Certainly it shows a disrespectul disregard of their current rights holders.

In June, the Italian league announced that it had agreed to a deal with Saudi Arabia’s General Sports Authority for three of the next five Super Cups to be played in the country. The deal reportedly will provide €20 million to Serie A and 3.15 million to participating clubs.

It is understood that 90% of the fee for next month’s game will go to Juve – whose boss is European Clubs Association chief Andrea Agnelli – and Milan, with the remaining 10% going to the league.

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